As writers we are supposed to show not tell. To let the reader see the characters world and arrive at their own conclusions not tell them what they should think. One way to do this is to show the reader personal items belonging to the character and use them to help capture the nature of the character. An example:
A woman’s purse
- In one we have a dog eared copy of PRIDE and PREJUDICE, a blue mole skin notebook and a spare pair of glasses.
- In another we have a self-defense handbook, a canister of mace, and the home number of a police detective.
- Finally, a third woman’s purse contains black eyeliner, the nipple ring she took off at her last emergency room visit, and a picture of a wolf she wants tattooed on her shoulder.
- On man’s glove compartment contains the vehicles owner’s manual, a first aid kit, a small tool kit, and a flashlight.
- Another’s contains a six month old Hershey bar, a half empty box of condoms and the owner’s manual to his other car.
- A third man doesn’t know what’s in his glove box. The door’s broken and he’s never fixed it.
- One person’s book shelves contains Military History (mostly WW II), Political books (mostly about how screwed up everything is) and classic science fiction (mostly Heinlein with some Asimov thrown in for color).
- Another’s is made up of Romance Paperbacks and Stephen King horror with some Laura K. Hamilton because they sort of fit both categories.
- The third guy doesn’t have any books. The only reading material in the house is an old National Geographic that got left in his mail box by mistake.
- One has 16 color coordinated Tupperware containers with leftovers from the last three meals.
- Another is fully stocked plus has two steaks waiting for tonight’s meal.
- Finally, This one has an empty ketchup bottle, a moldy orange, and the last bottle of beer standing there like a light house, warning him it is time to go to the store and restock the beer.